Body search of women by policemen illegal: Peshawar High Court

Published November 25, 2021
A file photo of the Peshawar High Court. — APP
A file photo of the Peshawar High Court. — APP

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has declared that policemen are not allowed to conduct body search of a woman under any circumstances and that under the law, a woman could be subjected to body search by a woman only.

Justice Mussarat Hilali of a single-member bench observed that under the Code of Criminal Procedure, a woman was entitled to ‘special treatment’ regarding body search.

“Section 52 of the CrPC provides that whenever it is necessary to cause a woman to be searched, the search should be made by another woman with strict regard to decency.

“Under no circumstances, male police personnel shall actually touch the person of a woman for making search or arrest,” it ruled.

Court grants bail to woman in drug case

The bench made the order while accepting bail petition of a woman suspect,who was arrested by the officials of Pishtakhara police station on Sept 6, 2021, on the charge of narcotics smuggling.

It granted bail to the petitioner on condition of furnishing two surety bonds of Rs100,000 each.

The FIR of the case was registered under Section 9-D of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Control of Narcotics Substance Act.

The police had alleged that they had seen the petitioner stand on the roadside on the Ring Road in Peshawar with a shopping bag in her hand and that the search led to the seizure of 3,280 grammes of heroin in the bag.

The petitioner’s counsel, Umer Zafran, contended that his client was falsely implicated in the case. He stated that the petitioner was six weeks pregnant and was a mother of three children.

He said on record, there was no female constable with the police team which claimed of recovering contraband from her possession. He added that the petitioner was arrested on Peshawar’s Ring Road which was a busy public place without a female constable.

The bench observed when the petitioner was searched by police on public road in presence of all male police personnel, the norms of decency could not have been observed.

“The question is how the petitioner, who is pregnant of six weeks, was searched on road side where there no prior information of her being involved in trafficking narcotics,” it observed.

The bench also expressed concern about the policemen keeping that woman in their custody for three long hours.

“It has also been noticed with great concern that though the FIR was registered against the petitioner at 1650 hours but she was sent to Women Police Station at 1950 hours Ice after a delay of three hours during which she remained in exclusive male police custody as no female constable is shown to have been associated with the proceedings,” it observed.

The court added that the situation was extremely intolerable, undesirable and against the statutory and executive directions.

It observed that despite the lapse of 65 days, the prosecution had failed to produce the Forensic Science Laboratory report of the contraband allegedly recovered from the petitioner.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2021

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